By Anna Garthwaite | Posted: Monday August 22, 2016
By Ashleigh Allum (Winner of the Extra Short Story Competition).
I slap my cards down on the round, wooden table, the impact making my hand burn like a blazing fire. “Right boys, we’d better go and get some sleep before the protest against the French testing tomorrow.” My stomach knots with excitement. We need to stop this nuclear testing in the Pacific. A raspy voice breaks the momentary silence. “We’ll just stay up a bit longer Captain.” As I head out of the dining room, I glance back over my shoulder to see two crew members cracking open the tops of a new bottle of beer. “Righto,” I reply, my voice edged with apprehension, “Just don't stay up too late, you know it'll be a big day in Auckland tomorrow.” I stagger through the dimly lit corridor, making my way to my cabin. Opening the porthole, a crisp gust of air blows in, freshening the room. I gaze out into the starry night. The moon illuminates the calm ripples on the water, as the gentle breeze blows against my, hot, clammy face. I slowly inhale the fresh salty air before I flop down onto my bunk. Creaks and groans echo throughout the cabin as the bunk adjusts to my weight. The sound of water lapping against the hull helps me drift off and slowly, as I close my eyes, thoughts of tomorrow's challenge give way to deep sleep.
Suddenly, a thunderous noise fills my ears. The boat rocks vigorously. I feel sick with worry, as I spring from my bed, certain that another ship must have hit us. Fumbling, I grab my flashlight, quickly flicking it on I follow its finger of light and make my way onto the deck. My heart is pounding like galloping horse hooves. I quickly scan the water and find no other vessels in sight. Confused thoughts rush through my head. Suddenly the air goes still. I hear another thunderous blast and the vessel starts shaking violently. Pieces of broken glass slice through the air like knives, as nails and bits of steel rain down. I am thrown to the deck, the impact slamming my head against the wall. I glance down and see that we are flooding. Panic rises up in me as I wade through knee deep water trying to get to the engine room. I gasp as I see shredded metal torn apart leaving a gaping hole in the side of the hull. I hear my voice shout out hoarsely. “Abandon ship!” My head is spinning, and I can't think straight. I hurry through the ship, questions blaze through my head. Is everyone alright? All I can make out through the hazy mess, are people plunging into the water. Suddenly, I am whirled into a blanket of smoke, my lungs gasping for air. I can hear confused mumbles, the smell of hot metal burning the insides of my nostrils. Taking one final look around, I pray everyone is safely off the ship and plunge into the cool, icy water. A murmur of relief flies around the crew as I join them on the jetty. My head is pounding and my ears are ringing. The blurry outline of a figure comes shuffling towards me. I bury my head in my hands as he solemnly tells me the news. The ship has been bombed. One of my crew has drowned.
I am devastated, my ship is damaged, a man is dead but I know we must continue our fight. Our protest is more real than ever. You can bomb the ship but you can't sink a rainbow.